Once upon a time, 1990 to be exact, I lived in the OC (Orange County, CA). In March of that year, something very special came into my life.
She was named Heidi (Dad's idea) and she was a Norwegian Elkhound. She was my shadow and went everywhere with me. At the time, I was married to someone who was very insecure and emotionally abusive, so Heidi became a very important part of my life. She was very protective, and read my emotional and physical state very well.
That Spring, I received my issue of Vogue Knitting. At that point in my life, I really loved DKNY, and in that issue was this sweater:
I'll get to the torn page later. Pretty sweater. Knittable sweater in my eyes. The one thing I had plenty of was cotton.
For those of you who may suspect that this is crochet cotton, you would be correct. I started knitting this sweater with two strands of #10 crochet cotton on size 2US needles.
1991 rolls around, and in June the husband became an ex. Heidi and I were living with my parents, and she was loving all the attention that "Grandpa" was giving her. Always a very finicky eater, Dad took pity on her and made special gravy for her kibble. He also walked her twice a day and she was his barbecue buddy.
Over the summer of 1991, I reconnected with friends and started to figure my life out again. It was during this time that my best friend Chris introduced me to a very nice man who became a good friend. His name was Kevin. Chris and I had been friends since 8th grade, and he knew my weird crafting habits, so bringing some knitting or needlework with me when I came to visit was not unusual. I remember the sweater being in my car for those times I wanted something to pass the time. I remember working on it that summer.
In the fall, I was offered a job transfer to Oakland, CA. I fell in love with the Bay Area, having visited it many times previously in the year. I even took a week's vacation shortly after my separation and explored San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay. When the transfer was offered, I jumped on it. I wanted to get away from So Cal and all the bad memories. I put my things in order, and headed north. That was the weekend of the Oakland Hill's Fire Storm.
That Sunday the fire raged through the East Bay Hills. I had been looking at some rental units up along Broadway Terrace. They burned that night and in the days that followed. I sat in my hotel room in Emeryville, facing the hills and watching them burn. Living in north Orange County, I was used to wild fires. After a while, you can tell the difference between structure and brush fires. I knew that night that this was going to be a monster. I sat there, knitting on the sweater and listening to the news. My eyes kept scanning the hills.
I had been looking for a place with a yard so Heidi could come live with me. Since I was now competing with 3,000 families for housing, I was lucky to find a studio apartment 6 weeks later. Let me say this - no one should benefit from a disaster. Landlords took advantage of the situation and rents in the area saw a huge increase in the months following the fire. With the Tahoe fire raging these last few days, it is so hard not to be reminded of my first week in the Bay Area.
I was visiting So Cal about every 3 weekends. Drive down Friday night. Drive back Sunday night. On a good day - a solid 6 hours with two gas stops. Kevin, who had moved back to Idaho Falls to be with his family for a while, visited So Cal every once in a while too. His drive was 16 hours. Long story short, we "hooked up". Chris was behind the whole thing. He said that he had no choice with the first one, he was going to be damned if he was going to get stuck with someone he didn't like this time. Side note - at my first wedding in 1988, Chris was in the bridal party. He nearly fainted during the ceremony. We had to stop briefly. It was a sign from God that we ignored. Anyway, Kevin and I started a long distance relationship. On June 29th, I came home from work, and he was at my apartment. Surprise!! The 30th was my birthday, and he was my present. This Friday, we celebrate 15 years together.
Yes, this is going somewhere.
My lease was up in December, and we lived in that Studio apartment until then. A friend of ours, Damon, stayed with us for a few weeks while he was trying to find work and a place to live. I met Damon and Kevin, as well my dear friend Tammi, within a few days of each other in June 1991. Kevin and I started looking for a place in November, and we found a house, with a huge yard, in Concord. Heidi would have a lot of room to run around, smell and explore.
We visited Mom and Dad for Christmas, and prepared to bring Heidi home with us. Reminder - she had lived with Grandpa, aka "Gravy-man" for 15 months. She loved my Dad, as evidenced by this shot.
This was taken Christmas 2000, our last Christmas together at my house. The following year, my Dad's health started to fail, and he passed away March 2002. Heidi normally wasn't allowed on the couch, but this was Grandpa. By this point, we had another dog, Fen, and he wasn't allowed on the couch, even when Grandpa was here.
Heidi was happy to be with me again, but wasn't happy about Grandpa not being here. No more gravy, no more walks twice a day. However, she had a whole house as her dog house and a huge yard with grass, real grass. She was used to a cement patio and red wood deck since my folks lived in a canyon. She wanted to let us know she wasn't happy with everything - and most of the destruction was directed at me.
One day, we came home and my bed pillows were in the backyard. She had dragged them out there through the dog door. How she did it, I don't know. Next were shoes, stuffed animals, some clothes, whatever she could get her paws on. To me, this meant, "I don't like you anymore, you can live outside". The only thing she destroyed that could be associated with Kevin was the remote. She demolished the remote and we found pieces all over the living room. We took this message to be "stop watching TV and pay attention to me". Then I came home to this....
Yes, my dog ate my magazine. I salvaged what I could, and luckily she didn't destroy the back half of the magazine. She also took out a couple of 1st edition books. She eventually forgave us and life returned to normalcy.
The sweater went away for a number of years, came out for a short period of time, then went back into the Cave (the converted garage). Last year, on January 26, 2006, Heidi went to be with Dad. She saw her 16th birthday. I pulled out this sweater shortly after she had passed, but I couldn't do it. Seeing those ripped pages reminded me of those first few months of her life here in No Cal.
Earlier this month, I figured it was time to get it done. 17 years is long enough. So here it is.
A very over sized lace sweater, with some color variations and in doily cotton. The sleeves are a perfect length, and the drape is funky. I plan on washing it and seeing what happens. I might have to tea dye it. We'll see.
It may not be perfect, or the vision I had wanted to create, but the last 17 years of my life are knit into this sweater. If nothing else, whenever I see, or wear it (and I will), I will be reminded of my Boo-bear, of the beginning of my life with my wonderful husband, of good friends that wanted to see me happy, and my life in Northern California. That's a lot to pack into one sweater!